At long last, citizens of Butaw District in Sinoe County over the weekend were engaged in a peace-pipe smoking initiative at a signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL).
The official signing of the MOU drew to the occasion Senators J. Milton Teahjay and Cllr. Joseph Nagbe of Sinoe County.
The signing ceremony was held at the administrative building of Butaw Statutory District and attended by officials of Butaw Welfare Development Association (BWDA) based in Monrovia.
Speaking during the occasion, Senator Milton Teahjay urged the parties to the documents to work toward the implementation of all components of the agreement.
Senator Teahjay, however, pointed out that GVL management should consider the continuous concerns raised by citizens and stakeholders about GVL’s Sustainability Department.
Senator Teahjay did not however give details of the concerns being raised by the citizens in the operational areas of GVL in Sinoe County.
“Since you the Butaw citizens are satisfied with the GVL MOU, we have no choice and option but to sign the document in order to bring the needed socioeconomic relief to our people,” Senator Teahjay stressed.
In remarks, Sinoe County Caucus Chairman Cllr. Joseph Nagbe reminded the citizens, GVL senior management team and BWDA leaders in Monrovia that whatever is embedded in the MOU should be adhered to at every stage of the implementation process.
“Since our people are overwhelmingly joyous about the GVL and Butaw MOU agreement, we as your leaders must sign the MOU and work hard with you people to ensure the implementation of the various components of the sacred document,” Senator Nagbe noted.
Earlier during the program, Sinoe County Superintendent Prosper Brown recounted how during the various negotiations, some were fraught with disagreements and challenges that were encountered by GVL officials and Butaw District representatives.
Supt. Brown also pointed out that though informed at a short notice about the MOU signing ceremony and the extensive consultations held with the citizens, the county administration was however pleased to form part of the occasion.
Brown underscored the need for the consolidated internal and external security protections of GVL’s investment and the general welfare of the oil plantation workers in Sinoe County in the years to come.
He also extended thanks and appreciation to the Butaw citizens especially the women for the maturity exhibited during the course of negotiations of the MOU with the GVL management.
In several statements made during the signing ceremony, commissioners, paramount, clan, sectional and general town chiefs pledged to support the implementation of various aspects of the document.
“We think that this MOU will really help us and men and women will be able to work and send our children to school and hospital in the years ahead,” the chiefs added.
After the signing ceremony, a lead advocate based in Butaw District, Benedict Minniewah, was carried shoulder high by young men and women for his unresolved commitment that brought the GVL to the negotiation table.
In a separate interview with reporters, Mr. Minniewah said he was delighted that such a day has finally come and the citizens will now begin to enjoy the fruits of the natural resources of their land.
“If I die to today, I will sleep in my grave in peace so that our citizens and children will celebrate our struggle for the right to our land which our forefathers worked to defend for us over the years,” advocate Minniewah stressed.
Some of the ingredients embedded in the MOU include the connections of farm to market roads, construction of schools, clinics and water facilities in the GVL operational areas in Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties.
Already carried out at the GVL oil palm plantation at Butaw is the construction of a junior high school and a clinic for GVL workers, children and other dependants.
Besides, GVL has constructed a mini airstrip and provided standard sanitation facilities such as pipe borne water and modern toilets, and a football field.
In a brief response, GVL Human Resource Manager Eric K. Goll assured the Sinoe Legislative Caucus, Butaw citizens and Liberians that development projects embedded in the GVL and Butaw MOU would be implemented by all parties involved.